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MOG Review: Unlimited Streaming With Mobile Support

Introduction

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

By

MOG - FreePlay

MOG - FreePlay

Image © MOG, Inc.

Introduction

MOG is a streaming music service that was first launched in 2005. Previously it only used to be a musically oriented social networking platform rather than a true music service. This was due to the fact that users could only share their musical tastes via updates to their MOG profile and blogging facilities. However, MOG has now matured into a full-featured cloud music service that offers an array of features and a large library of songs to dip into. With other major streaming music services already out there, how does MOG compare? Read our full review of MOG to find out how this service operates and how it can be used as a music discovery tool.

The Lowdown

Pros:

  • FreePlay service comes ad-free for first 60 days
  • Unlimited streaming music via subscription
  • Music streams are of a very high quality (320 kbps)
  • Excellent support for mobile music via apps (iPod Touch, iPhone, and Android)
  • Good integration of social networking tools for sharing your discoveries

Cons:

  • MOG is only available in the United States
  • FreePlay music credits need to be earned to keep the music playing

MOG Music Service Options

FreePlay Meter

FreePlay Meter

Image © Mark Harris -- Licensed to About.com, Inc.

FreePlay
If you'd rather try out MOG before splashing your cash, then FreePlay is an excellent option to sign up to. MOG offers a generous 60 days without advertisements so you can get a good feel for the service to decide if it meets your requirements. In contrast, other services that offer a free account (like Spotify) don't give you an unrestricted ad-free period and so MOG gets the thumbs up in this area. The way FreePlay works is a bit different to other services that offer a free account too. There's a virtual gas tank that is used for listening to free music which you need to keep topped up in order to keep listening for free. Luckily this is simple to do and is designed to reward you for using the MOG service. Examples of tasks that earn you free music include: sharing music via social networking sites, creating playlists, exploring MOG, referring your friends, etc.

Music streamed from MOG using the FreePlay option comes in high quality audio at 320 Kbps just like for the subscription levels too. This is a facet of the service which MOG could have easily crippled to a lower quality in order to persuade users to upgrade to a paid-for option -- this certainly gets the thumbs up too! The big advantage of using FreePlay is that if you don't mind having to refill your virtual MOG gas tank by carrying out tasks like the ones mentioned above, then you won't ever have to upgrade to one of MOG's subscription tiers. However, there's a lot to MOG that you'd miss out on such as: unlimited music, no ads, MOG on your mobile device (including unlimited downloads), access to many playlists by artists and experts, and more.

Basic
MOG Basic is a subscription tier that is the first level up from the FreePlay option and probably the most popular one too. Unless you specifically need mobile device support, then this is the level that you'll want to use. It offers a good range of options for listening and discovering new music. For starters, you'll get access to MOG's entire music catalog without any limits -- you won't therefore have to remember to refill your virtual gas tank as with the FreePlay option. Unlimited streaming music is provided in high quality 320 Kbps MP3 format and can be accessed from more places than FreePlay (computer only). You can access MOG from GoogleTV, your own TV (via Roku), Blu-ray players, and Samsung/LG TVs.

Primo
If having mobile music is an essential requirement of yours, then subscribing to MOG's top subscription tier, Primo, is a must. As well as getting all the benefits of the Basic level, you will also be able to download an unlimited supply of music to your mobile device. Simply use the MOG app for your iPod Touch, iPhone, or Android based device for music on the go. Primo is also useful if you want to keep your playlists in sync between the Internet and your mobile device. Music streamed to your smartphone by default is set at 64 kbps to ensure there is no drop outs. If you want to tweak this, there's a setting you can change with the iPhone and Android apps to enable 320 Kbps streaming while connected to a 4G or Wi-Fi network if so desired. You can also download music at 320 Kbps just like MOG's other plans for maximum quality.

As a side note, most streaming services seldom provide music at this level of quality (320 Kbps) and so this feature alone could just sway you into choosing MOG as your main streaming subscription service.

Music Discovery Tools

Search Bar
The simplest way to get started with MOG is to use the familiar Search Bar near the top of the screen. You can type in an artist, track name, or album title. This will then produce a list of results to click on. We found this method easy to use and yielded accurate results. You can further refine your search by clicking on the tabs (Artists, Albums, Tracks).

Similar Artists
On every artist page you view there is a list of similar artists that MOG recommends. This is a very useful feature for music discovery if you're looking for new artists, or just fancy surfing around on MOG to see where you end up. This feature is similar to Pandora Radio except that you can't learn MOG about your likes and dislikes. Nevertheless, it's a good tool for quickly finding new artists that produce similar sounding music.

MOG Radio
Mog Radio is a stellar feature for quickly discovering new music from other artists that you might not have come across before. Clicking the red radio icon on an artist's page for example brings up the MOG Radio interface. Using the slider bar, you can tweak how MOG radio suggests new music. Sliding the control all the way to the left-hand side of the screen (Artist Only) narrows the search. Alternatively, sliding the control all the way to the right-hand side of the screen (Similar Artists) helps you to discover new music by alternative artists. The great thing about this tool is that you have a more granular type of control of how MOG suggests new music while focusing on the same (or very similar) genre.

Organizing and Social Networking Tools

MOG Radio

MOG Radio with slider bar

Image © Mark Harris -- Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Playlists
Creating playlists in MOG is as simple as it probably gets. After clicking the Create New Playlist option in the left pane and giving your first playlist a name, you can drag and drop tracks into it -- just like using your favorite software media player in fact. If you are going to use MOG to full effect, then playlists are essential. As well as being perfect for organizing your music in the cloud, playlists can be shared via social networking, email, or instant messaging. If you've got a Facebook or Twitter account then it makes sense to use playlists to share music with your friends via this route.

Favorites
Clicking the heart icon next to tracks, artists, or albums adds them to your favorites list. Although not as versatile as playlists, the favorites list is useful for bookmarking your top discoveries on MOG. Once you have added an artist to your favorites list you can get more information by clicking the carat (down arrow) next to it in order to open up the artist's main page.

Conclusion

MOG is a stellar music resource if you want to quickly find new music and build up a huge library in the cloud. However, it is only available in the United States at present and so isn't so accessible as competing music services like Grooveshark, Spotify, etc. That said, with music streams offered at 320 Kbps, MOG surpasses many other services which typically fall short of this high audio quality. With FreePlay, you can first try out MOG without first having to risk paying a subscription. What we liked most about MOG's FreePlay service level is that for the first 60 days you can listen to music without any advertisements -- this trumps some other services (like Spotify) who have ads in the music right from the start. Upgrading to a subscription level (Basic or Primo) gets you unlimited music and the possibility of accessing MOG from other devices (like GoogleTV, your TV (via Roku), and certain other brands of TVs). If you're a mobile music lover, then MOG Primo offers good support for mobile devices so you can listen to music (and sync playlists) between the Web and your device.

Finding new music using MOG is also a breeze thanks to its many useful music discovery tools. The user-interface makes music discovery a joy, with several smart tools designed to expedite building up your library. Social networking tools on MOG are also plentiful so you can share your music discoveries with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, or good old email.

Overall, MOG is a first-class streaming music service that offers a superb user experience -- and is fun to use too!

Disclosure: The company provided free access to this service for review purposes. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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